Held in conjunction with Seoul Aerospace and Defense Exhibition (ADEX), The Cheongju Air show took place on October 25th – 27th 2013 at Cheongju International Airport. The air show segment was held in Cheongju Airport instead of Seoul Airport due to runway construction works.
Located about 62 miles (110km) south of Seoul City, Cheongju International Airport provides domestic services in South Korea and international services to Taiwan and China. Situated opposite the passenger terminal and the runway is the base for the Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF)’s 17th Fighter Wing, which operates the McDonnell Douglas F-4E Phantom.
In the centre of the exhibiting apron were the Korean indigenous aircrafts; the Korean Aerospace Industry (KAI) T-50 Golden Eagle, KUH-1 Surion helicopter and the KT-1 Woongbi trainer/light attack aircraft.
Fighter units on show were the F-4E from the 153 Fighter Squadron, Northrop F-5E of 202 Fighter squadron, General Dynamics KF-16C from 20 Fighter Wing and the Boeing F-15K Slam Eagle which was displayed with an AGM-84K SLAM-ER missile. They are dispayed with their full range of armaments, including the AGM-142 Popeye and GBU-39 Small Diameter Bombs.
Helicopters present were the Sikorsky HH-60P Pavehawk, Kamov Ka-32A4 (Korean designation HH-32A) and the Boeing HH-46D Chinook.
Although the new Lockheed C-130J was recently delivered to ROKAF, it was represented by a C-130H from 251 Tactical Air Support Squadron. Also present was a CASA CN-235 and a P-3 Orion.
A surprise participant was the Boeing 737 Airborne Early Warning & Control (AEW&C) Peace Eye. Not listed in the initial web program, it made its entrance on the 25th morning.
The show’s first day showcased a celebratory fly-past; the first wave consisting of four F-16s, followed by a convoy of C-130 and CN235 each escorted by six KT-1. A flight of five T-50s entered show centre before ending of with three F-15Ks breaking off with a string of flares.
Blessed with cloudless skies, but with a hint of haze, ROKAF’s primary fighters F-15K and F-16D took to the skies with each showcasing high ‘G’ turns and power climbs in their short routines. Next, the Best Display Team for Royal International Air Tattoo and Waddington 2012 performed their High Routine at the cloudless Cheongju skies with their Taegeuk display in full view.
ROKAF demonstrated their Combat Search and Rescue, with two F-16s clearing the skies and dropping flares, followed by two KT-1s providing close air support with pyrotechnics going off. These planes remained overhead while another pair of HH-60P Pavehawks enter to ‘rescue’ the down pilot.
Not forgetting that Cheongju is the home base for the F-4E Phantoms, and the highlight to most foreign spotters would be two the Phantoms taking off and doing a couple of passes, dropping some flares before landing off, deploying its brake chute. We were lucky to have the Phantoms taxy past us with their canopies opened, which was an awesome photo opportunity. The short routine is an apt reminder that the retirement of the Luftwaffe Phantom is not the end of the Phantom world.
Other aircrafts which took to the skies include a pair of S1-S bi-planes from the Paul Bennet Airshows and a KAI KC-100 light aircraft. Also spotted were the United States Army UH-60 Blackhawk and ROKAF AS332 Super Puma for VIP transport.
Affected by the United States Federal Shutdown, the United States Air Force (USAF) unfortunately were not able to turn up for this show. Initially, they had committed a Fairchild A-10 and F-16 for both static and flying display, and a U-2 to flypast the show centre. Regular aircraft from previous shows such as AH-64D Apache, C-17 Globemaster III and ROKAF AH-1 Cobra did not participate as well.
Despite USAF’s absence in this year’s show, Cheongju International Airport Airshow showcased some quality airmanship and hardware from ROKAF and civilian performance from Paul Bennet Airshows.
The next instalment of the Seoul Airshow will be held in 2015 at Seoul Airbase..